Cactus Times Volume 4

Number 1 • Friday Evening


All Change

Ten Downing Street announces that, due to today's poor opinion polls, yesterday's Cabinet reshuffle has been revised. New Ministers: Mike Ford, Chancellor of the Exchequer; John Harvey, Home Secretary; Eve Harvey, President of the Board of Trade; Colin Harris, Environment; Nic Farey, Employment; Linda Krawecke, Transport. Mexicon members are assured that the convention will not suffer as a result of this short-notice reassignment of committee members. The committee will now be boosted by the talents of John Selwyn Gummer (Chair), Norman Lamont (Programming), Michael Heseltine (Bookroom), Norman Tebbit (Registration Desk), John Patten (Silly Games) and Douglas Hurd (Fun).

Programme News

K V Bailey replaces Richard Evans as moderator on 'Waves of Synchronicity' on Saturday morning.

David Garnett replaces Chris Amies as moderator on 'Telling It Like It Is' on Monday morning. Ken Campbell has also joined this panel.

People's Video Programme: to borrow videos see Dave Carson (bookroom) or Linda Krawecke.

Cabbie's Challenge

A taxi-driver (who had that Rog Peyton in the back of the cab once) recommends the Chinese in York Place and the (Cantonese) Jade Crystal ('Jade Something*, anyway' [RP]), along with stringing Norman Lamont up (cuisine unknown). Asked whether Scarborough runs to anything more exotic (Thai? Japanese?), she said, 'People who come here only want fish and chips.' We feel sure that if it's there (foodwise) Mexicon members can find it, so let us know. Rog eventually ate at the Scarborough Tandoori, next to the Opera House: 'Good food, slow service.' *STOP PRESS: In-depth research in the Yellow Pages suggests it may be the Jade Garden, Falsgrave Road.

For snacks, the Green Lizard (visible from outside the hotel) has its moments. Yorkshire pudding lurks. Authentic chip butties were consumed by C.Stross and M.Gentle; the fan who ordered tagliatelle should not have been surprised at the side order of chips. • Langford's budget eating tip: Take John Jarrold. • John Harvey's tip for finding a restaurant: Don't take Mike Ford.

First Major Committee Cock-up

Due to circumstances beyond Mike Ford's reading-ability, we do not have use of the basement bar (Nick's Bar) until tomorrow. Please use the Cornelian (non-smoking) and the Terrace tonight.

Birthdays and Stuff

27 May: John Barth, 1930; Harlan Ellison, 1934. Massacre of Protestants in Northern Italy, 1606. Habeas Corpus Act, 1679. Professor Picard reached the stratosphere in a balloon, 1931.

28 May: Louis Agassiz, naturalist/geologist, 1807; Dr Joseph Guillotin, 1738; Kees van Toorn, 1954. Arrival of Maximilian of Habsburg in Veracruz to become Emperor of Mexico, 1864. Paris Commune suppressed, 1871. Neville Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister, 1937. Anne Brontë died 1849 (she's buried in Scarborough).

Century of the Damned

As at 5.00pm, 100 members had shown up -- 97 registered and three walk-ins.

Strict Discipline

Mike Ford -- hotel liaison after our reshuffle -- says that Blu-Tack may be used on any surface except wallpaper. Anyone seen using it on wallpaper will be nailed to the wall for the rest of the convention.

Chill Out

Tickets for the great Spinrad Chili feast on Saturday night are on sale now at Registration, £1.00 each, first come first served. Get in fast before they all go.

Bookroom Opening hours

9.30am-6.00pm. Usual bookroom rules apply: no smoking, no food, no drinks in the room, except for dealers who can ruin their own health and stock to their hearts' content.


Is not allowed in the main con hall, except for nervous panellists and hungover tech crew members. This rule is relaxed during parties. The Cornelian bar is all no-smoking; smoking is allowed in other bars. As ever, follow the hotel's rules in the restaurant and respect the wishes of the occupant of any hotel room you happen to be visiting. There are cigarette machines in the hotel, but I haven't found them yet.

Lots and Lots

Are you a mermaid? A heart, a rose, the sun or the moon? Keep the Mexican lottery ticket enclosed in your programme pack for a free drink at Banksie's Blowout tonight. Find someone with a matching ticket, make a new friend and get a surprise! There is something for everybody in the Mexicon lottery!

Things Get out of Hand

The half-gallon jar at Registration is claimed by the people we bought it from to hold zillions of tiny things. But who knows exactly how many? Eve Harvey, whose dream of joy was to count them! Take a guess! Win your own copy of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction! Just twenty pence a guess, or six for £1.00, in aid of Books for the Blind.

To enter: Take a form from Registration, examine the jar carefully and MAKE THAT GUESS! Then put your money in our beautiful hand-crafted money box, which represents the ancient sage Ni Kol-Tse. He knows EVERYTHING -- except how many things there are in the jar. Only Eve Harvey knows that. Guess as many times as you like. Winner to be announced at the Closing Ceremony on Monday.

Drinks on Sawyer

Andy Sawyer is to be the next administrator of the SF Foundation. He takes up his post at Liverpool University on 1st August.

Two Falls, No Submission

To fall off one train is unfortunate, to fall off two between Southend and Scarborough you probably have to be Pam Wells. First fall was at Fenchurch Street, where Pam's chequebook and purse landed on the track and were retrieved by a helpful BR porter with a shovel.

Fall Two, witnessed by Robert Stubbs, Mooring and Dibbs and Ward and Davies, took place at Scarborough. Main casualty was a plastic bottle of mineral water, which left a shiny trail along the platform as Pam hobbled taxi-wards.

Keep on Running

We are sharing Scarborough with the Prison Officers' Association conference. Please don't send us all your Group Four jokes -- their need is greater.

Brevity is the Soul of What?

On Sunday Mexicon plans to bring you another first ... a newsletter containing a complete science fiction anthology! (Notion © Barnett & Langford Devious Plans for Getting Others to Write the Thing, plc.) Forget 100-word stories ('drabbles'); forget Brian Aldiss's 50-word 'mini-sagas'; this is the cutting edge of brevity, the eight-word science fiction novel. SF pros are permitted, nay, encouraged, to condense their existing work for this exciting anthology ('Wow! Longer even than The Last Dangerous Visions!' -- H.Ellison in 8 words exactly). Official entry forms will not be available: use a bit of paper. Immense prizes! At least, one copy of Sex Secrets of Ancient Atlantis by John Grant hangs in the balance!

Entries -- precisely 8 words, even for dekalogies, etc. -- by exactly 8.00pm Saturday to either Langford or Barnett, or to Registration, or to the newsroom.

Reign of Error

So you bought the new Encyclopedia of SF? Or you expect to win one by guessing how many things? Then you'll need the exciting 5-page supplement whose first edition was completed mere days ago, listing the most interesting and amusing errors yet located in this monumental tome (plus updates on omitted books, dates and much more). By dint of great personal heroism and ratlike cunning, a newsroom hanger-on has brought a copy of the list to Mexicon, and we expect to be running off copies real soon now.

FATW Chance!

Material from Fans Across the World will be up for grabs in the fan auction, so please come, bid and make Bridget happy. Also available: April and May newsletters (please donate!).

We Name the Guilty

All the mistakes and infelicities in this first Cactus Times of Mexicon 5 are gratefully credited to chief editor and slave driver Abigail Frost. Good bits inserted by passing hacks Barnett and Langford. Thanks to Eve Harvey, Rog Peyton, Roger Robinson, Pam Wells and Bridget Wilkinson. Gregory Pickersgill is reverently acknowledged.

The Wayside Pulpit

'The secret of publishing a successful fanzine is getting out a first issue.'